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Posts Tagged ‘values’

painting of two fish, by Jedidiah Morley

Ponderment. copyright Jedidiah Morley

After a year of absolutely lovely weather in South-East England (Poki, I don’t care what you feel obliged to say about English summers, 2009 was lovely ;P ) January was just dismal. Grey, bleak, dark, all those English weather cliches you hear about so much. I think we had 4 days that were not oppressively overcast. Blerch!

So, that’s my major excuse for lack of blogging here during January. Mild depression and introspectiveness caused by the weather. I didn’t have the energy to get my thoughts onto the page. Also, Jed gets SAD, so a lot of my January was spent gently bolstering him and picking up some slack in day to day life so he could take the time he needed for naps. (NB: this is not to imply he wasn’t pulling his weight, just that we all fluctuate with the seasons, and perhaps acknowledging this more often would lead to a less broken society).

The dismal weather was coupled with the 9 month homesickness jag. Or maybe the first winter homesickness jag.Whichever way reaching out to others was a bit tough for the last month.

However, while all this was happening there was also stirrings in other areas, indicating what the year ahead would be like. The soil in which my new life has been planted has been warming up, shoots are starting to poke through the soil, buds are unfurling, and all other aspects of that metaphor that are appropriate. To whit:

Work has been busy and mostly fulfilling. I’m running the implementation of a restructure for one of the services in the Council, which means my strengths are actually (finally!) being used. At least, they are for 2 days a week, since that’s all the time I am allowed to bill to this project. This is rather frustrating, not least because this service asked for full-time support and needs full-time support. My team is under-staffed and playing political games so this service didn’t get the support it needed.

I’ve been seriously thinking about my future, what I do well, what I excel at and enjoy. All sorts of ideas are cropping up, realigning my assumption that life was going to take me through a traditional hierarchical career path. Perhaps I am more suited to project based consultancy type work. Go in, fix a problem, then move on. I get rather bored once it’s all routine. Then combine this with ideas I have for a content-based online ittybiz for some other income. A more fluid life.

Combining the two ideas, next week I am going to see if the service wants to hire me full-time. I’m still on an ongoing monthly contract with my current team, so there’s no compunction to stay there. There may be internal politics, i.e. a feeling that my manager’s manager has to be asked if he can spare me. Which is unfortunate, since he is likely to say no, as they need me. They don’t, they could find someone else to rewrite strategies for them at the drop of a hat. Finding someone who can walk into a service and gently, respectfully guide them through a restructure is much more difficult to find.

Also, I’m a bit grumpy about this, as the entire bargain of having a contractor on site is that you can fire them when it’s expedient, but they are also likely to leave if a better offer comes along. I tend to have a very particular idea of the employment bargain: it’s two sided and I get a say in what sort of work I do, or I’ll find something else. I’m aware of my assets enough to not settle, and certainly not because one director holds more of a sway then another one does. We’ll see how this one pans out.

Talking futures, we’ve been plotting Jed’s future as well. Trumpet flare: He now has his paintings available for sale on line via a print-on-demand site. Go look! They’re fantastic, I’m so proud. Order something if it suits you, or forward to someone else who might like to look.

I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months skilling up in online marketing and small business administration to support him in this endeavour. It will make him so much happier to be able to do this, and I have those skills already, generally contracted out to someone else. What better use of them is there than to support my love. Complementary aspects.

Last night we registered a URL for him. Today I will be doing the initial install and build of the site. Later next week (maybe) we’ll launch it. Very exciting!

Despite the SAD, I’ve watched him blossom and change in the last month, as he’s had permission (and given himself that permission) to paint, to create, to put his work out into the world and get good feedback.

My 2010 kicks off on Chinese New Year – next weekend. Stayed tuned for what this might look like. In short, brighter and better than 2009. Thankfully!

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Last week I promised I’d have updates for January by the end of the week. It’s now Monday, everywhere on the planet.

Here’s the first part of a (hopefully) 4 part series to catch you all up on the end of December and January. The other three will cover home & local area and work & future direction, and things that happened that were not Christmas.

Obviously I need to resolve to either follow through on promises, or not make promises in the first place. Gentle self-awareness suggests that the second option is probably more realistic.

We spent the week before Christmas at Jed’s parents place in Devon with all the family, including his sister. Overall it was quite a pleasant week . As I’d spent Easter and another weekend in Devon I felt much more comfortable with the routine of the family, and I suspect they felt more comfortable with me.

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This has been sitting in draft form since 5 December. I finally have the brain space to finish it. Enjoy!

1. Power plugs in bathrooms – as in there aren’t any, anywhere in that room, except for an electric  shaver plug, which is the wrong voltage for any other appliance. I thought it was just our house, but after checking 8 other rental properties, and asking the (real) estate agent, it seems this is standard.

Gah! I can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and not actually disturb my sleeping bf. Can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and be able to easily sweep up the hair that falls out.

Why is it that men can have their grooming item in the bathroom where the mirror is, but women can’t? This extends to straighteners, and curlers as well as hair dryers. Why allow one type of electricity and not another?

I’m assuming it’s a health and safety thing, not wanting electric appliances to fall into baths. But, seriously!? Some of the risk averse practices of this country are very confusing to me. (Which reminds me of a conversation I want to have with Poki at some stage, about the difference between a nanny state and a risk averse society, and which comes first, since they’re both in existence here)

 2. Changing power cables – In contrast to the previous item, it seems extremely common and acceptable that people change the power cables on their appliances. Extend their length, shorten them, change the plug type if necessary. Something I’ve never seen anyone do in Australia, except a flatmate who was a trained electrician, nor have I heard anyone discussing it as something they’d do on the weekend.

This seems rather dangerous to me, although I am assured it’s relatively stratightforward.

3. Dogs on trains – all dogs are allowed on trains, not just guide dogs. It’s odd. I sat next to a couple the other day who had their small (yappy-type) dog in the woman’s lap. The dog insisted on attempting to eat the chewing gum under the table. I’ve even seen them on some local buses.

I think this is firmly in the “different” category. I can see issues with the practice, people with dog allergies for instance, but I can also see benefits, being able to take your dog to a large park/forest and give it a chance to run around.

4. Plastic Surgery – It seems to be more accepted and more prevalent here. Whereas in Sydney, I was vaguely aware that some people, somewhere, had plastic surgery, it was no-one I knew. The attitude of the people I hung out with was that it was mostly the middle-aged women who had a certain image to maintain and a disposable income, and why would you put yourself through it. Such a vain thing to do. And more an American thing.

However, here, half the classified sections in the back of fashion magazines are full page ads for plastic surgery clinics, 3-5 pages worth. Which gives me the impression that plastic surgery is more acceptable and more common.

Thinking about it further, perhaps it’s the difference in gender politics between the 2 countries. A number of sources agree with me, that Australia tends to be more gender neutral, you’re worth is judged on your personality, knowledge and competencies, regardless of your gender. This is less of the case here, gender matters, although it’s very difficult to point out to British friends what triggers this. It’s subtle, but I’ve never been so aware of being a woman and the role that I should therefore fulfil and what I am and am not allowed to be and do. This also translates into greater pressure to look good at all times. (NB, British men, particularly those over the age of 40, similarly have much more restricted concept of what it is to be male, and how they should and should not behave, than the Australian men of the same age that I have had dealings with).

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(as an antidote to the long posts)

  1. I find I get inordinately offended if anyone implicitly questions my honesty and honour.
  2. I inadvertently ate some fresh chillis at lunch. Now I am all spacey and concentrating is a particular challenge, but it also feels like I am incredibly focussed and skillful. It’s a very strange intolerance that I have.
  3. I just found a tiny muscle under my jaw that is tight on the left hand side, but not the right. Evidence that my back/neck issues are also jaw related, something most practictioners have never picked up on.
  4. Reading the free papers available at train stations makes me depressed. Reading WIRED magazine, or a proper broadsheet paper does not.

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Another two weeks have passed since I wrote a weekly update. It’s been a combination of busy work (finally!), waiting to get some photos uploaded, and then a down period in the middle of last week which means that the post I wanted to write would have been more down than it deserved to be. We’ve all had enough of down posts recently. At least I have. I’m starting to worry that you’re all going to think I’m a big puddle of sadness and depression and homesick, when there are moments of fun and happiness and comfort. So, on with the last two weeks:

Funghi on log in Banstead woods. Autumn = leaves and mushrooms!

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It’s 3 years.

3 years since one part of my life fell apart.

BUT

It’s 3 years since I decided that I was now free

I was now able to choose to live my life the way I wanted

To not be apologetic for being me

Since I decided to set out on the quest to learn how to live a life of fulfilment and happiness. Joy and Hope.

In those 3 years I:

  • Travelled to the UK and Paris twice and the US once, to Melbourne numerous times, Tasmania 3 or 4 times, and the Great Barrier Reef once
  • Had various adventures, danced through life and bounced for happiness and joy
  • Drank tea on a rooftop, drank wine on another one, danced in the rain, cuddled trees, discussed philosophy on balconies at dusk
  • Met lots of lovely people, learned what it is to love friends and be loved back. Discovered many members of my heart and my spirit families
  • Shared a home with a wonderful woman. We shared food, thoughts, care and concern. A comfortable place to be, and my first home in a long time
  • Learned how emotionally strong I am, and how I deal with stress
  • Learned what my ideal life is like
  • Had a brilliant job, with fantastic colleagues, that was all I could want at that stage of my career
  • Lost 15 kgs, and became stylish, but also wore knee-high stripey socks and fun hats
  • Learned the principles of being an adult, chief that being an adult means realising no-one is going to do that difficult task for you.
  • Was an internet DJ for 18 months and learned that I CAN tell an interesting story
  • Have seen the Cat Empire in concert 6 times, and re-discovered an appreciation of music that I thought I’d lost
  • Have become an excellent intuitive cook, and appreicator of good food
  • Met the man I was supposed to meet, and moved to the UK to be with him

On this day every year I remember, and am thankful for the fact that part of my life fell apart. For the intense phoenix journey that was the following 18 months, and the changeable journey of the last 18 months. And I start to look forward to the next 12-18 months and start to wonder what it might bring.

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Yes, apparently it also works the other way around. Or maybe that’s just me. What I realised this week is that I always, always, always need somewhere to call home. It stabilises me, keeps me centred, grounded, happy.

I was very homesick last week. Physically, wistfully homesick. Specifically for a certain house in Newtown, the one I used to live in. The only place I really called home in 10 years of moving through rentals all over the Inner West of Sydney. I remembered its light and airy quality, its smells, its colours, but most importantly the sense of purpose and control I had living in MY HOME (with my fantastically awesome flatmate).

Since then I’ve not lived in my home, always someone else’s. My sister and her fiance wonderfully gave me somewhere to live while I waited for my visa to come through. But, that was her home, and I was an itinerant rellie living out of a suitcase.

The place we’ve been living in Redhill has not been home. It is too crowded – 3 of us in a two bedroom flat, with a 4th every 2 weeks. This means 3 people sleeping in the same room every two weeks. There’s no space when we’re all at home, which actually leads to isolation as people carve out their own silences whilst sitting right next to each other. This makes breaking down barriers even more difficult. A lot of the things around the place are left-over from previous (male) flatmates, cast offs and hand-me-downs and the vibe is very bachelor pad/student flat. Which I vowed to never go back to once I started earning a decent amount. It was making me hit the edge of depression again. Very worrying.

It was supposed to be temporary. A stop on the way to a shinier future. Only the temporary dragged on, and on, and on, for various reasons.

One of the results of the week of rest and low drama was that I had mental time to shine a spotlight on this and realise WE NEEDED TO MOVE! Our place, our space, a lovely house.

Thankfully on Friday we found a place, further up the train line towards London, but not quite in London (like being in Strathfield – it’s a rapid train trip of 10-15 minutes into the centre). 2 bedrooms, so L now has her own space and won’t be sleeping on cushions at the foot of our bed. There’s some back steps for sitting on and drinking hot drinks (I’d seriously missed an inviting back step, the backstep here is too dark, cold and yin for me to spend time there). It’s a 1st floor converted flat in a big Victorian terrace, with a bay window at the front (our bedroom) and has ample storage space. Oh, and the rent is fantastically cheap, which was Jed’s major stress.  We’re moving in mid-November.

I’ve spent the last few days running around smiling, saying “Housey-house!”. Jed says that I’m laughing again, and it had been so long that he’d forgotten what that laugh sounds like. He looks a lot lighter, happier, like he did while we were in Sydney.

Hence the title: Heart is where the home is. My heart went missing while it didn’t have a home to be in. Shortly I will have a home again, and hopefully it should hang around for quite a while.

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The other major news of the week is that Jed has decided to go teetotal for the 2 months to Christmas. This was also the result of the week of rest and low drama. I realised that holding on some sort of grim desperation that it would all get better if I kept waiting patiently and not rocking the boat was not actually affecting any change.

He’d become reliant on alcohol to address life’s frustrations.  It was seriously affecting both of us. Anyone with a FB account will probably have noticed Jed’s side of the story. My nature is to remain stoically brave and patient and cheerful. Early last week I came close to running out of my ability to carry the weight.

He’d rather not live that way, I’d rather he didn’t live that way. We don’t need to live that way.

The change has been fantastic, even in one week. A bit rough for the couple of days afterwards, as was to be expected. I’m very thankful and very proud that he made that decision after realising there was an issue, after realising what was most important to him. As each day goes by my level of trust that he can do this and in the wonderful promise for our lives that existed when I first arrived increases and becomes more solid.

-Oh, and did I mention: HOUSEY-HOUSE! 😀

Edit: As an addendum. I realised last night how much of the stress of the past few months was a direct result of an underlying personality clash with my flatmate.

The horrible, hiding stress came back last night and I realised that the only thing that had changed was a 1 hour session in which he talked at, over or around everyone else in the room and made some very passive critical remarks about the living arrangments. Which made me realise that the stress/depression started soon after he moved in.

I’m relieved to work out (but also a bit annoyed) that we almost gave up the most important thing to both of us because we needed to manage our relationships with a 3rd, temporary person in our lives. And absolutely releived that it will only be another 2-3 weeks.

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